Post Date - Dec 15, 2023
The holidays are officially here, which means truck drivers are hitting roads filled with festive cheer—and lots of traffic. While the holiday spirit is contagious, it's crucial for truckers to prioritize safety and efficiency on the highways. In this blog, we'll explore essential holiday driving tips tailored for truckers who keep our goods moving during this ‘merry’ time of the year.
Plan for Increased Traffic
As the holiday season approaches, be prepared for a surge in traffic as people hit the roads for family visits, shopping sprees and winter getaways. According to The Hill, U.S. drivers could see their travel times increase by up to 20% this 2023 holiday season. For truckers, careful route planning is essential, considering potential traffic jams and road closures.
Stay informed and plan strategically by using navigation apps with real-time updates to anticipate any unexpected delays. Try user-friendly options like Google Maps or Waze to find alternative routes around congested areas or work directly with your dispatch. For example, if your route takes you through a major city known for holiday traffic, consider reviewing alternate routes with your dispatch to avoid potential delays.
Take Rest Breaks
For truckers, it's crucial to plan schedules with enough time for essential rest breaks and meal stops. The holiday rush can impact both mental and physical well-being, emphasizing the need to prioritize sufficient rest. This ensures maintaining focus and alertness on the road. Follow the hours-of-service regulations set in place by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA): you must take a 30-minute break after driving for 8 cumulative hours.
Think about planning your rest breaks strategically at truck stops that come with amenities. For instance, schedule breaks at rest areas providing comfortable facilities for drivers. This allows for effective recharging with a quick nap or a nutritious meal, helping enhance well-being during the demanding holiday season.
Winter weather can be challenging with elements like snow, ice and freezing rain. Stay updated on the weather along your route and ensure your truck is equipped with essentials such as snow chains and antifreeze. When faced with tough weather conditions, reduce your speed to stay in control and minimize the risk of accidents.
Before starting each leg of your route, check the weather forecast. This way, you're ready for winter conditions. FreightWaves has shared a list of weather-tracking apps preferred by truck drivers for staying prepared on the road – be sure to check it out!
Schedule Home Time
In the holiday rush, finding the right balance between the demands of the road and time spent with family is vital for truckers. Scheduling dedicated home time isn't just about celebrating the season; it's an important investment in your well-being. Taking moments to recharge with loved ones not only boosts morale but also contributes to mental and emotional resilience during the demanding holiday season.
Effective communication with your dispatch team is the key to scheduling home time. According to findings from a Truckers Report survey, 9 out of 10 truckers seeking to return home are granted the opportunity, highlighting the significance of home time in their lives. Make it a priority to collaborate with your dispatcher to emphasize the importance of family moments and work together to plan and strategize routes that allow for quality time at home.
Before you head out on your holiday route, take a moment to thoroughly check your truck. Make sure everything is working well—brakes, tires, lights and fluid levels. Being proactive like this can help prevent breakdowns and ensure a smooth journey. The FMCSA emphasizes the importance of maintaining a well-maintained vehicle for safe winter driving. Check out this guide for a refresher on everything you should check for during a pre-inspection.
When examining your truck, focus on the braking system and tires, looking out for any signs of wear and tear. For instance, if you hear any strange sounds during your pre-trip check, address them promptly to avoid potential issues on the road. This careful inspection keeps your vehicle reliable during holiday travels.
Stay Hydrated and Healthy
Driving for long hours can take a toll on your physical well-being. Remember to take care of yourself by staying hydrated, eating nutritious meals and doing light exercises during breaks. A healthy driver is more focused, especially key during the demanding holiday season. Healthy Trucking of America offers excellent advice on healthy eating for truck drivers. Try packing a cooler with water and nutritional snacks like fresh fruits and nuts. This simple step can provide a quick and nourishing energy boost during breaks, helping you stay well on the road.
Truck News strongly recommends incorporating exercise into routes, and if drivers have some extra time, they should consider stretching. It helps relieve the strain from long shifts of driving and, when done before bedtime, can calm the heart rate for a more restful sleep.
Secure Your Load
With more holiday shipments on the road, it's crucial to make sure your cargo is well-secured. Take a moment to double-check that everything is tightly fastened to prevent any shifting during transit. This not only keeps your load safe but also contributes to overall road safety. Lastly, be sure to familiarize yourself with the FMCSA regulations for cargo securement.
When securing items, be sure to use load straps or tie-downs. For example, if you're carrying palletized goods, ensure they are securely tied down to avoid any movement that might affect the balance and stability of your truck. Paying attention to properly securing your load not only keeps you safe but also makes the roads safer for everyone.
Be Mindful of Fellow Drivers
During the holiday season, show consideration to your fellow drivers. Practice patience and caution, especially in busy areas. Make sure to signal your intentions clearly, keep a safe following distance and be thoughtful of others who might be unfamiliar with the routes.
When changing lanes, signal well in advance. For instance, use your turn signals early to let other drivers know your plans, creating a safer driving environment for everyone during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Your thoughtfulness contributes to a smoother and safer road for all.
The holiday season can be a challenging yet rewarding time for truck drivers. By incorporating these driving tips into your routine, you'll not only ensure a safer journey but also contribute to the overall efficiency of the transportation industry during this festive time. As you hit the road, remember that your dedication and professionalism play a crucial role in bringing holiday joy to people across the country.
‘Jingle’ into Our Team: Ascent Expedite is Looking for Owner Operators
We are actively seeking experienced owner operators who share our commitment to safety and understand the challenges of winter trucking. If you want to be part of a team that prioritizes your safety and well-being on the road, we invite you to join us at Ascent Expedite. Together, we can navigate the holiday season with confidence, knowing that you have the support of a company dedicated to your success and safety.
Drive safely, and may your holidays be filled with success and the satisfaction of a job well done!